Allotment owners plotting campaign against Richmond Council rent increases

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Angry: Tim McGough Angry: Tim McGough

Allotment holders vowed to continue campaigning after discovering fees could be increased for a second year running.

Gardeners were outraged by Richmond Council’s proposed 5 per cent increase in allotment charges for 2014-15, which follows a fee hike of 46 per cent last October.

Chairman of Borough of Richmond Allotments Group (Brag) Tim McGough spoke against the proposals at an environment, sustainability and community overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, January 27.

He said the council agreed to meet to discuss allotment holders’ tenancy agreements, which he hoped could be amended to include a service level agreement and remove a clause that allowed rents to be increased at short notice.

After the meeting he said: “We would like to get that clause taken out so that we can be consulted properly.

“At the moment it is very hit and miss and a bit of a patchwork service.

“We just want the council to provide a reasonable, consistent and value for money service.

“We are going to put them under even more scrutiny to make sure they deliver a good service.”

If the charges are agreed allotment holders would see their annual rent of £13.50 per 25sq m increased to £14.20 and concession holders would see their charges rise from £6.75 to £7.10.

Comments (5)

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10:11am Wed 29 Jan 14

aspicer says...

It's a disgrace that the Council are letting out valuable assets like this for £7 per 25m2 per year. The Council, with its spending squeezes, decreasing budgets and constant cuts to services, like those for the disabled, should be maximising their (i.e. 'our') Borough's income. It would be more benficial to concrete these and turn them into carparking to subsidise other cuts.
The current position is simply not the best use of a valuable community owned asset. Finite budgets require tough decisions. If disabled facilities can go, then this can go too and be converted to a site of more benefit to the community. Maybe the increased income from parking on such sites would have saved other more morally valuable facilities. But the disproportionate number of Jerry and Margo's will not see this, and continue to shout louder than others.
It's a disgrace that the Council are letting out valuable assets like this for £7 per 25m2 per year. The Council, with its spending squeezes, decreasing budgets and constant cuts to services, like those for the disabled, should be maximising their (i.e. 'our') Borough's income. It would be more benficial to concrete these and turn them into carparking to subsidise other cuts. The current position is simply not the best use of a valuable community owned asset. Finite budgets require tough decisions. If disabled facilities can go, then this can go too and be converted to a site of more benefit to the community. Maybe the increased income from parking on such sites would have saved other more morally valuable facilities. But the disproportionate number of Jerry and Margo's will not see this, and continue to shout louder than others. aspicer
  • Score: -7

5:25pm Wed 29 Jan 14

illynillyt says...

for the record, spicer, it was Tom and Barbara who had the allotment, not Margot and Jerry
for the record, spicer, it was Tom and Barbara who had the allotment, not Margot and Jerry illynillyt
  • Score: 5

9:29pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Concerned_Resident says...

People in this area really do worry me with their priorities and tight fisted nature. Perhaps that's why the area is full of people that are loaded in the first place. The full price for a 10 rod allotment is just about £10 a month. That's around £2.50 a week. Now consider that you are getting land in your 'village' with possibly the wrong postcode if you live in Whitton, which just so happens to be in one of the most expensive areas in one of the most expensive countries in terms of land values. You'd be lucky to get space for a pot plant at that amount of money on the open market.

Frankly, I think if the fee was quadrupled, you'd still be getting a bargain. Allotments are in demand, there are certain old duffers on some sites (I know of at least 4 people with more than one allotment on my site, one of whom has at least 3 maybe 4 plots) and raising the price will mean:

- allotment hoggers will be priced out of having more than one plot, thus actually providing movement on the waiting list
- people will be encouraged to actually maintain their plots (why have something costing proper sums of money for no real reason). Most sites have some poorly maintained plots
- more money would be available for improving services such as water provision, which is something the people paying next to nothing in the first place bang on about constantly, even though it's basic economics - pay nothing, get nothing
People in this area really do worry me with their priorities and tight fisted nature. Perhaps that's why the area is full of people that are loaded in the first place. The full price for a 10 rod allotment is just about £10 a month. That's around £2.50 a week. Now consider that you are getting land in your 'village' with possibly the wrong postcode if you live in Whitton, which just so happens to be in one of the most expensive areas in one of the most expensive countries in terms of land values. You'd be lucky to get space for a pot plant at that amount of money on the open market. Frankly, I think if the fee was quadrupled, you'd still be getting a bargain. Allotments are in demand, there are certain old duffers on some sites (I know of at least 4 people with more than one allotment on my site, one of whom has at least 3 maybe 4 plots) and raising the price will mean: - allotment hoggers will be priced out of having more than one plot, thus actually providing movement on the waiting list - people will be encouraged to actually maintain their plots (why have something costing proper sums of money for no real reason). Most sites have some poorly maintained plots - more money would be available for improving services such as water provision, which is something the people paying next to nothing in the first place bang on about constantly, even though it's basic economics - pay nothing, get nothing Concerned_Resident
  • Score: 6

12:54pm Thu 30 Jan 14

lottieprosser says...

There's hopefully no question of concreting over most of these sites as they are Metropolitan Open Land and some of them don't even belong to the Council but to Royal Parks and other bodies who lease them to the Council. Most of the complaints allotment holders have are about safety and security issues such as dangerous trees, broken down fences, asbestos, flytipping etc. and are not unreasonable. The Council doesn't spend much on maintaining the sites and is not very clear about what the service costs to run and how much of the rents have to go on salaries so it is partly to blame. Many of the tenants are retired people and allotments are a big help in keeping them fit and active so they could be considered to be a very cost effective alternative to day centres and other social care if that helps aspicer! Agree that there are some plot hoggers so at least these large rises may help to free up more space for the hundreds of keen people on the waiting list.
There's hopefully no question of concreting over most of these sites as they are Metropolitan Open Land and some of them don't even belong to the Council but to Royal Parks and other bodies who lease them to the Council. Most of the complaints allotment holders have are about safety and security issues such as dangerous trees, broken down fences, asbestos, flytipping etc. and are not unreasonable. The Council doesn't spend much on maintaining the sites and is not very clear about what the service costs to run and how much of the rents have to go on salaries so it is partly to blame. Many of the tenants are retired people and allotments are a big help in keeping them fit and active so they could be considered to be a very cost effective alternative to day centres and other social care if that helps aspicer! Agree that there are some plot hoggers so at least these large rises may help to free up more space for the hundreds of keen people on the waiting list. lottieprosser
  • Score: 3

10:15pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Concerned_Resident says...

The problem is, the amount of money each allotment site will bring in at the current, or even proposed charge, is so limited. 100 plots at £130 each a year = £13,000. I imagine that a good half of those (almost certainly many more) are entitled to 50% off so a site with 100 plots will likely bring in less than £10,000 a year.

Now consider overheads like water rates and the management costs for the sites. I imagine they probably have less than £5,000 left for a 100 plot site. In this day and age, what does that kind of money get you? It won't pay for properly secure fencing across a whole site, it won't pay for new water systems, it probably wouldn't even come close to covering the annual cost of clearing the fly tipping and repairing the fences that the vandals break.

Unless the plot users actually want to start paying anything more than a nominal fee for their plots, they shouldn't be entitled to anything more than they currently get, especially as they are expecting the council to in part fund what is their hobby.

Also, to be blunt, those wanting to campaign should get real. They are whining on about an increase of just £0.60 a month at full price. Absolutely silly.
The problem is, the amount of money each allotment site will bring in at the current, or even proposed charge, is so limited. 100 plots at £130 each a year = £13,000. I imagine that a good half of those (almost certainly many more) are entitled to 50% off so a site with 100 plots will likely bring in less than £10,000 a year. Now consider overheads like water rates and the management costs for the sites. I imagine they probably have less than £5,000 left for a 100 plot site. In this day and age, what does that kind of money get you? It won't pay for properly secure fencing across a whole site, it won't pay for new water systems, it probably wouldn't even come close to covering the annual cost of clearing the fly tipping and repairing the fences that the vandals break. Unless the plot users actually want to start paying anything more than a nominal fee for their plots, they shouldn't be entitled to anything more than they currently get, especially as they are expecting the council to in part fund what is their hobby. Also, to be blunt, those wanting to campaign should get real. They are whining on about an increase of just £0.60 a month at full price. Absolutely silly. Concerned_Resident
  • Score: 5

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